Anna Schultz-Girl On Computer Stress

How to Handle Stress in College

College involves a lot of learning new skills and ideas for the first time as we figure adulthood out. We learn about things from cultural relativism to the history of Jerusalem to how to conjugate Spanish verbs in the subjunctive--usually all in one week thanks to the quarter system.

But of all the skills we learn, I’m a true believer that the most underrated one that we desperately need during college in life is stress management. In an ironic sign from the universe, I missed my usual Her Campus deadline last week due to the number of ongoing commitments, group work, projects and papers I was juggling--making me realize this article topic was much needed if only for myself to write.

It’s important to learn healthy stress management skills (side-eyeing binge drinking and staying in bed all day as no no’s). But before nailing down useful tactics in dealing with stress, I realized it’s important to even recognize when stress is happening. A lot of times, young women ignore the signs coming from our own minds and bodies that enough is enough and that we need to minimize the amount of responsibilities we’re handling.

Here are three major signs that you’re stressed AF:

1. You’re snapping at people

I’m not proud to say that at my most stressed points this quarter, I lost my patience easily with my close friend and found myself acting rudely. I felt like one friend in particular saw the worst side of me. Once I realized that I was doing that, I took a step back and apologized. But remembering how I was acted became a good point of measure to realize when I’m stressed and not handling it well and when I can take preventative measures to that not-so-great behavior.

2. You’re not sleeping well

Poor sleep can exacerbate stress and poor sleep itself can also be a sign of stress. When we’re stressed, our bodies have trouble slowing down, not knowing when it is supposed to relax and unwind. In general, our bodies store a load of information that we should stay in-tune for. From breakouts to even the content of our dreams, our bodies are constantly sending signals to us in our busy lives.

3. You’re complaining...about everything.

College on some level includes a certain amount of stress as we work towards our goals. But if every little thing is ticking you off and you find yourself monologuing to every classmate or friend about your workload, then it’s more than likely that you’ve taken on too much.

To combat stress, check out these three practical tactics:

1. Prioritize your health

My stressful week was made worse by a terrible head cold and I realized that all the work I wanted to get done would’ve been handled much better if I hadn’t been sick. At the end of the day, health is wealth. And it’s so, so important to prioritize sleeping at normal hours and eating full, regular meals (and not eating your first meal of the day at four o’clock in the afternoon) to be at your best. Taking care of your body on a basic level leaves you in the best shape to deal with bigger responsibilities.

2. Lay off the caffeine

This tip is pretty specific because like a lot of college students, I am an avid coffee drinker with my main weakness being UCI’s three Starbucks locations. But consuming large amounts of caffeine can exacerbate stress, aggravating the adrenal glands and causing them to produce more adrenaline: pretty much the last thing you need on top of tests, club responsibilities and social obligations.

3. Stay organized

A lot of unnecessary tension gets added to your average school stress by being disorganized. Spending time right before a project deadline looking for something or not even knowing when your deadline is creates additional and unwanted stress. Learning to be organized was a major game-changer for me in terms of reducing the amount of panic and anxiety in daily tasks. Keeping essential papers in places so that I knew where to find them dissolved a lot of stress.

And finally a bonus tip: remember that you’re doing your best and already contributing to your goals just by being in college. At times, it may not feel like a lot but pursuing your passions while getting an education is a huge deal. Despite the stress of the quarter, I feel proud of everything that I tackle and the next thing to tackle includes applying stress management skills!